A SHORT GUIDE TO
Photo by Santiago Rueda
Writen and designed by Santiago Rueda 2013 Images included in the guide are not licensed exclusively for this material. Some are under Creative Commons licenses. I try to include only CC images, but it was impossible in some categories. If any picture included in this guide is under a restricted license, please write me to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will remove it. This guide is not made with commercial intentions.
lternative fashion is defined in terms of its position outside of mainstream fashion. Itâ€™s a broad concept that involves a wide range of looks and intentions, often with no clear boundaries. Originally associated with specific esthetics of different subcultures, today alt fashion includes almost anything that cannot be found in mainstream retailers, and does not tend to have widespread popularity. Curiously, mainstream fashion attempts to appropriate alternative fashion as it own, which we can see with vintage clothing and the grunge subculture.
lternative fashion is a break from standard dress codes, implying a personal or political statement. For these alt fashionistas, their personal look is a critical part of their identity. They pay no heed to how shallow or profound their attire may be viewed, but they ensure that they make a strong statement.
donâ€™t pretend to create an exhaustive list of these different classifications, but wish to provide a guide of different styles that exist in the alternative fashion scene. Santiago Rueda
WHAT IS NOT
A conclusive study
1.Avant Garde Couture 2.Vintage/Upcycled Pret a Porter 3. Gothic/Vamp/Gore Vestments 4. Burlesque/Pin Up/Circus Costumes 5. Alternative materials/process Clothing 6. Assembly/installation wearable art 7. Music subculture 8. Cosplay/Fantastic Pop Uniforms 9. Sustainable eco-garments 10. Ethnic heritage apparel
AVANT GARD COUTURE
t is hard to establish a distinction between avant garde alternative fashion and vanguardist mainstream fashion. Of course, nobody knows the future, but avant garde designers attempt to create cyber wears, new utilitarian outfits or just crazy constructions based on outrageous patterns that one day could become the mainstream look of the future Joes and Janes. owever today, this alternative designer has yet to reach a certain point of fame and influence. Think of when Alexander McQueen was a no-name designer. Any fashion that is strongly branded as anti-brand or anti-establishment could fall under this category.
Wong Kai Lai, Photo by See Ming Lee
Resort 2014 by Mary Katrantzou
Alexander McQueen Haute Couture Sci-Fi Movies Bjork Cirque du Soleil.
WHAT IS NOT
Vintage\Upcycled pret a porter
Photo by Michael Kelly Chantel Beam
intage is the new black. The revisionism of past trends is in vogue and is one of the main influences of alt fashion in mainstream culture. With the rise of the hipsters and a more ecologically conscious generation, salvaging past high fashion dress is highly regarded. Fashion elements of past eras are combined to create a unique and post-modern look.
hops branded as vintage boutiques or thrift stores are where you can find old clothes, washed and mended to create a new look. Add hats, shoes and a romantic look to the past, and you get the right idea. Upcycled, instead of recycled, state the new qualities of the product and the idea of responsible consumerism.
his alt fashion is not exclusive of a subculture, but strongly associated with the hipster movement. People that wear these kind of clothes do it to create a hip look.
Goodwill Industries International
Emilio Pucci of Italy sold by Child Inc
The past The hipster culture Annie Hall Napoleon Dynamite
WHAT IS NOT
Your out of fashion uncle style.
Bodo Janos Attila
ampires and zombies. Leather, tattoos and some bondage, are present in this category. The common idea of a “dark” look and a certain acceptance of pain. Chains and body alterations, black and even bloody make up are part of the menu.
ombie sightings are trending, making it not so unusual to see a teenager dressed as one at the mall, movies, restaurants. This style is inspired by the hard rock of the 70’s and 80’s, and popular TV series often exuding a strong sexual content. Emo’s could easily be classified here.
D: Wong Kai Lai, P: See Ming Lee
Andreas Waldschuetz ‘Vampara’
Interview with a Vampire Rob Zombie The Matrix Twilight Hellraiser The living deads. 9
WHAT IS NOT
Burlesque\Pin Up\Circus Costumes
French Market Stitch
Old Wold Circus by Xi Sisong
his category is retro-extravaganza. With a lot of humor and some sensuality, this specific trend looks for laces and poke a dots. The burlesque, a funny subversion of the Cabaret, is a close friend of the pin-up styleâ€™s bold colors with naive girls showing glimpses of skin and a kind of circus spectacle that includes jugglers and fire eaters.
here is a sense of pride about not having perfect bodies and a nostalgic look to a different time when Betty Paige was queen.
Alika Circle Navy Pin Up Dress Bettie Page Clothing
Betty Page Cabaret Pin Up calendars Marylin Monroe Moulin Rouge Dita Von Teese 11
Hell Bunny - Nioha Top Hawaii Red - Pin Up Fashion
WHAT IS NOT
Boudoir lingerie, pole dancing.
Dress on Latex / Sashalouise
“Escapism” Dress 1 3D Print. By Iris van Herpen
usic expressions and subcultures are the main components of this group. The punk style is almost a classic alternative fashion category and there are new ones like the Hip Hop attire full of bling bling and white tennis shoes or the fluorescent ballerina style used in dance raves all over the world, whimsical and colorful combinations used to dance.
ome of these deviations inspire mainstream brand collections; music is a powerful force in fashion because of its hypnotic influence on young people.
Acne’s armored jeans
White Reef hand cut paper dress by Casey Watson
New technologies Nanomaterials 3D Printing Architecture Origami Sustainable Design Recycling 13
Lote and Bloom (Florist)
WHAT IS NOT
Hippism, eatable panties
Images: Jรถrg Peter, Design Nora Ahy Haenska.
Christopher Straup/Patric Pryor, photo by Santiago Rueda
his special category is more related to contemporary art and to the idea of fashion as fine art. Specially designed outfits by talented artists, body painting or mixed media pret a porter garments are some of the elements of this upscale category.
ashion is gaining its entrance in galleries and museums. More and more artists are intervening dresses and bodies to create an esthetic language. Some clothes are almost sculptoric while others can be total conceptual as the infamous dress made with meat modeled by the iconic Lady Gaga.
Unknown artist, Austria body paint competition
Fabric a dress by Santiago Rueda
Photo by Peter Anderson, dress by Piero Gilardi
Yves Klein Andy Warhol Jana Sterbak Haute Couture Lady Gaga
WHAT IS NOT
Punk hair By Rain Blanken
usic expressions and subcultures are the main component of this group. The punk style is almost a classic alternative fashion category and there are new ones like the Hip Hop attire full of bling bling and white tennis shoes or the fluorescent ballerina style used in dance raves all over the world, whimsical and colorful combinations used to dance.
ost of these derivations inspire mainstream brands collections, music is a powerful force in fashion because of its special influence on the youth.
Indie Folk, photo by Isa Giallorenzo
Photo by Raul Araya
Ultra Fashion by CareBearâ€™s Closet
Close your eyes and listen what is on the radio now
WHAT IS NOT
Cosplay\Fantastic Pop Uniforms
By Dana Fox of AlienFox
Lolita Fashion by Spooky Electric
nother subculture, product of Harry Potter and Star Trek obsessions. Cosplay is huge in Japan and the idea is quite basic: to dress as a pop culture fictional character with magical powers. Videos games are a huge influence in this group.
dentity is constructed by affiliation with a fictional character and to impersonate that character is a statement of the persons values. With the rise of nerds to power and a more IT based society this category will grow exponentially in the next years.
Photo by Frank Kovalchek
Cosplay Angi Viper as Dark Phoeniz, photo by Richard Cabrera
Cosplay Comic con Anime Star Trek/Wars Harry Potter Video Games DevianArt 19
Photo by Nina Yasmine
WHAT IS NOT
Na Zhang’s line Fake Natoo
Fur Hood by Vika Ggazinska
reen, green and green. These are our conscience and educated consumers. Fair trade, organically made textiles, local artisan products and everything that makes the world better fall under this category.
egan clothing, recycled materials and low carbon dioxide impact attires are also in the menu. The main concern here is the planet’s sustainability. Design and everything else its under the command of “save the planet”. No, no yoga pants here but go for faux fur as long as it’s made with recycled fibers.
Recycled materials, Designs by Kayla Crook
Indigenous Top Tank, fair trade, organic.
Vaute Couture, etchical fashion.
Soy milk Vegans Wind Farms Occupy Wall Street Grean Peace
WHAT IS NOT
Ethnic heritage apparel
Photo by Vanessa Veronica, NYC Street cred
Les Gazelles by Lauren in Cool hunting
lobalization is the core influx of the contemporary world, boosted with the internet and enriched with local cultural elements. Immigration is one of its biggest realities and thatâ€™s why ethnic heritage is so important nowadays. The best way to reflect your heritage it is to wear it. Incorporate the dress of your ancestors, and be proud of your heritage. frican outfits, Irish kilts, Mexican skirts look (and feel!) better if they are the real thing. Clothing inherited from your grandparents (or family member). There are new approaches to the traditional wardrobe, making it more functional and contemporary. Traditional indian, japanese, african and latino are strong influences and are great influences for mainstream fashion.
African Prints in Fashion: Heritage Collection by Moyaah
Immigrants Frida Kahlo Seydou Keita Samurai movies African Cultures Anything “ethnic” 23
RNA by Rahul and Anushka
WHAT IS NOT
10 Tips to guide your alt style
Be bold. I know, you are tired of being told to “be yourself”, “be unique”, “express your true self”. However, nowadays you can pretty much get away with wearing almost anything. So, relax, let go, and give it a try. Be bold. Free yourself from mainstream oppression!
Multiple schemes. Don’t be faithful to one look or style. Don’t commit your life to the alternative wears. You are allowed to have multiple-schemes. If you work in a bank, wear traditional suits. But we all know that after the 9-5, you are the rageest, eco-chic girl in your co-op.
Avoid department stores at all costs. Scavenge around thrift stores, vintage boutiques, flea markets, consignment stores. If none of those options are nearby, the world wide web is yours for the purusing.
Mix and mismatch. Don’t just wear garments of a certain style. How about a vintage jacket, organic jeans and a nice gothic piercing in your lips? Don’t forget to paint a red dot on your front … Namaste my friend.
Create your own designs. Designers aren’t the only ones who can create outfits. With the internet or a local alteration shop you can create your own. Hold off on spending $200 on a department store dress that everyone has. Use that money for a personal fashion project and show your uniqueness!
Visualize your style. Close your eyes and imagine how would you like to look. See it? Fell it? Now start looking! Create a Pinterest board, and pin ideas of who you see yourself as. Take your time creating your look. If you succeed… well, that was something, wasn’t it? Take pictures and share with others … who know who else you can inspire!
The power of one is better multiplied by two. In other words, you probably aren’t the only one interested in alternative fashion styles. Look for a local MeetUp group in your area and surround yourself with like minded fashionistas.
Don’t overdress, don’t over do it. There is a fine line between rocking the alt, and looking, downright ridiculous. Often nice and simple is better than the over the top rococo. Going vamp? A beautiful pair of fangs can create miracles. Ultimate eco-minimalist your goal? I would suggest that walking around in your neighborhood nude may be crossing that fine line.
Shoes don’t lie. The basic foundation of everything is in your hair and in your shoes. Find the ones that express your style, and stick to it.
Ignore all of the above. Avoid any and all advice in this matter. I mean, we are talking about alternative fashion here. Why would you really want to listen to anyone other than yourself? 24
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Published on Mar 20, 2014
A short guide to several alternative fashion trends, everything from Ethnic Heritage to Eco-chic. PLUS: 10 tips to guide your alt style.